Houston, Texas, USA : If you have diabetes, you need all recommended vaccinations, the American Association of Diabetes Educators says.
Diabetes reduces the immune system’s ability to fight certain infections. This raises the risk for serious complications from diseases that vaccines protect against—including flu, pneumonia, hepatitis B, tetanus and shingles.
“People with diabetes may be at higher risk of getting certain diseases and also serious problems from diseases that could’ve been prevented with vaccines,” said Evan Sisson, an associate professor at Virginia Commonwealth University.
“Everyone should know what vaccines they need to protect themselves and discuss with their doctor whether they are up to date with the vaccines,” Sisson said in an association news release.
The association offers these recommendations if you have diabetes:
The flu shot is the best protection against seasonal flu. For someone with diabetes, health complications from flu can include increased blood sugar levels, pneumonia, bronchitis, sinus infections and ear infections.
The Tdap vaccine protects against three serious diseases caused by bacteria: tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis (whooping cough). You should get the Tdap vaccine every 10 years.
The zoster vaccine reduces the risk of developing shingles and PHN (post herpetic neuralgia), serious illnesses for unvaccinated people as they age. If you’re 50 or older, you should get the zoster vaccine.
Diabetes raises the risk for death from pneumococcal infections, which can include infections of the lungs, blood, ear, and lining of the brain and spinal cord. People with diabetes should get the pneumococcal vaccine once before the age of 65 and twice more after.
Hepatitis B can be spread through shared blood glucose meters, finger stick devices and other diabetes care equipment, so it’s critical for people with diabetes to be vaccinated against hepatitis B. The vaccine is recommended for people younger than 60. People 60 or older should ask their doctor about the vaccine.
An unrelated study found that flu shot is key for people with diabetes.
Flu shot key for people with diabetes
With predictions calling for a potentially bad flu season this year, doctors are urging people — particularly those with diabetes — to get vaccinated.
Many people with diabetes don’t get a seasonal flu shot each year, according to the American Association of Diabetes Educators (AADE). Some people with the blood sugar disease don’t realize they’re at risk for flu-related complications. Others have misguided fears that the shot will trigger an adverse reaction, the group explained.
However, people with diabetes are more likely to develop serious flu-related health problems if they get the virus, the AADE cautioned. The group said the flu shot is a safe and effective way to prevent or reduce the severity of these complications.
“Reducing risks is one of the AADE’s seven key self-care behaviors for managing diabetes, and getting the flu shot every fall is an excellent way of reducing the risk of getting sick,” certified diabetes educator Evan Sisson said in an AADE news release. “It’s widely available, it takes just a few minutes and it can make a real difference in your health.”
Good hand hygiene is another important way to stay healthy and hopefully avoid the flu, the diabetes experts noted.
There are several ways a seasonal flu shot can benefit people with diabetes, according to the AADE. They include:
Better disease management The flu and other infections can raise blood sugar levels and disrupt a healthy diet plan. Avoiding the flu can help people with diabetes stay on track and manage the condition.
Complication prevention. People with diabetes are more likely to be hospitalized for flu-related complications, such as pneumonia. They are also more likely to die from the flu.
Immune system boost. As people age, their immune system weakens. The flu can tax the immune system, increasing the risk for serious complications and even death. A flu shot can help weakened immune systems ward off the flu. People 65 or older should talk to their doctor to see if the high-dose flu vaccine is right for them.
The AADE added that people who do get the flu should see their doctor right away and discuss the possibility of taking antiviral drugs, which can help speed recovery.